are trapped in an isolated farmhouse while cannibalistic zombies - awakened
from death by the return of a radioactive space probe - wage a relentless
attack killing (and eating) everyone in their path. The state-of-the-art
special effects and the contemporary twists make this a classic for the
90's: graphic, gruesome, and more terrifying than ever.
"They're coming to get you Barbra..."
So you're George Romero, writer and director of one of the most influential
horror movies ever, Night of the Living Dead, and it's some
twenty odd years later and you're executive producing a remake of said
movie. Who do you get to direct? How about special effects master Tom Savini,
the man responsible for the horrifying effects in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead? Seems a pretty good choice to
of the Living Dead stars Tony Todd and Patricia Tallman as Ben
and Barbara, respectively, two individuals who seek refuge in a farmhouse
as a legion of hungry corpses descend upon them and soon find the house
not so much a haven as a claustrophobic nightmare. They also discover they
aren't the only ones in the house, as there are five people locked in the
basement. Emerging from their hidey-hole are Harry and Helen Cooper, a
married couple, and Tom and Judy Rose, a younger couple, Tom's uncle being
the owner of the house. Also in the basement is the Cooper's daughter,
Sarah, who has become ill after being bitten by one of the undead (guess
where that's going). A diverse group, for sure, and one that finds itself
at odds in if it's better to fortify the house or retreat to the fairly
secure basement. Harry thinks it's best to go into the basement and bar
the door, but Ben would rather board up all the doors and windows, using
the basement as a last option, as there is only one way in and out and
he doesn't want to trap himself down there unless he absolutely has to...Harry,
who is quite vocal throughout, thinks this plan foolish and says once he
goes into the basement and bars the door, he won't open it for anything,
regardless. As tensions flare, night falls, and the dead begin arriving
in greater numbers, I guess sensing the warm, living flesh they so crave
to be inside the house. As the situation grows worse, an escape plan is
formulated, but the plan soon falls apart, and it's back to the house.
Who lives? Who dies? Is rescue in the wings, or should they just put their
heads between their legs and kiss their hinders good-bye?
It's always a sketchy affair remaking a film, especially one that's deemed
a classic and definitive representation of its' genre. Look what happened
in 1998 when director Gus Van Sant released a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
A total and tremendous flop...Yes, I am sure there was a awful lot of apprehension
to redoing a movie that really didn't need to be redone, but the end result
turned out an interesting update, remaining true to the original while
adding a few surprises along the way. Tony Todd is excellent as Ben, and
is definitely the strongest characterization in the film, bringing a lot
of what Duane Jones did in the original, while adding personal nuances
to make the character his own. Patricia Tallman's character of Barbara
starts out the same as the original played by Judith O'Dea, but goes through
some serious changes by the end, allowing for the a modernization of the
character to fit more along the lines of the strong female lead, as seen
in the Alien films with Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. Was
this for the better? I am still undecided, but it certainly made interesting
viewing. The character I found most annoying was that of Harry Cooper,
played by Tom Towles. His portrayal was overblown to the point of being
silly, with his constant yelling, screaming, and berating of other characters.
The Harry Cooper in the original was a jerk, for sure, but at least you
got the feeling it was a jerkiness borne of overriding desire to protect
his family, even if his plans were at odds with the rest of the group,
allowing for viewers to develop some empathy for the character. Here, the
character is played as a bonehead to the ninth degree, and it only served
to, in my opinion, disrupt the flow of the film. The biggest difference
between the original an the remake is obviously the color factor, but one
will also notice that the undead are much more detailed than in the original,
due to a much larger production budget. You can tell a great amount of
effort was taken in this area, enhancing on the original film. The film
wasn't quite as gory as I thought it was going to be, but that's pretty
well explained in a making of featurette. Seems in order to avoid an X
rating, these scenes were either removed or toned down. Savini didn't seem
too upset about it, as he felt, and I agree, that sometimes what you don't
see is just as effective as what you do see.
The DVD has the wide screen presentation on one side and the full screen
on the other, and includes some good special features like trailers, production
notes, commentary by Savini, and a 25 minute making of featurette called
`The Dead Walk' that highlights a lot of interesting facts about the movie,
along with comparisons to the original. Also in this featurette are some
of the scenes that were deleted to get an R rating, along with alternate,
more visceral scenes that were toned down in the release. If you liked
the original, chances are you'll get a kick out of this film, as I definitely
wasn't disappointed, and I usually despise remakes.
nameplate on the house indicates an "M. Celeste." According to Tom Savini's
commentary on the DVD, that's a direct reference to the "Mary Celeste",
a ship that was discovered adrift at sea with the passengers and crew missing.
Cardille appears as a reporter in both the 1969 version and the remake.
scene where Barbara shoots the black man in the chest and then finally
in the head wan not originally going to be in the film. We were supposed
to see a hideous female zombie that Barbara saw as her mother and everyone
was to tell her to "Shoot it!" and the mother looked at Barbara and asked
"Where's Johnny, Barbara" and then their mother turned back into the hideous
female zombie and she finally shoots it.
Macgruder zombie was a man that director Tom Savini saw in a diner and
told him that he would make a great zombie, the man agreed. He showed up
to all of the premieres.
autopsy zombie at the beginning of the film was not in the original script,
something that was added by Tom Savini.
black man who comes through the window after they throw Macgruder out was
a cab driver who Tom Savini took a ride from.
you look closely after Ben shoves a body out the kitchen door, you can
see a cameraman's reflection in the door window.
car driven by Johnny at the beginning of the film was owned by Tom Savini.
According to the director it was the first car he bought after meeting
with success and it broke his heart to wreck it during filming.
- Tom is wearing a shirt that says "Iron City"
on it. This is the brand of beer the hunters are drinking in the original Dawn
of the Dead.
- When Sarah
bites her mother Helen on the neck, blood splatters on a garden trowel
hanging on the wall. This is a reference to the original Night of the
Living Dead, in which the daughter kills the mother with a garden trowel.
- Laurence Fishburne and Eriq La Salle both
auditioned for the role of Ben.
- The scene at the end of the film, where
several zombies are lynched from a tree and shot at was in fact scripted
in the original 1968 film, but was cut because of the racial tensions gripping
the country at the time. The scene pays homage to the cut.
- Director Tom
Savini has known Patricia Tallman since they went to college together.
He chose to cast her because of her strong-willed demeanor.
- As is tradition with most zombie films,
the word 'zombie' is never once used in this movie to describe the Living
- Like all of the Romero Living Dead movies, there is a 'sexy naked zombie woman' walking toward the house in
one scene. Just like in the original film, there is full side and rear